Vice Chair of San Jose Ethics Commission Abruptly Resigns

The vice chair of San Jose’s Board of Fair Campaign and Political Practices Commission abruptly resigned this month over a colleague’s op-ed criticizing Mayor Sam Liccardo’s push to give his office more powers.

Liccardo and his business allies eventually reversed course on the issue, backing off a proposed ballot measure that would usher in a strong-mayor system in the nation’s 10th largest city to give everyone more time to weigh in on the idea.

But the fallout from the July op-ed penned by Fair Campaign and Political Practices Chair Adrian Gonzales continues to reverberate on the five-member committee, which investigates suspected violations of local election law.

Chris Peacock was so upset about Gonzales’ open critique of the city’s top elected official that he stepped down as vice chair toward the end of last week.

In a resignation letter sent to City Clerk Toni Taber, Peacock said he took issue with Gonzales’ claim that the mayor and council members supportive of the strong-mayor push hadn’t consulted with the campaign ethics board. “Yet the op-ed itself reflected no consultation with this, the very same board, on this subject,” Peacock wrote.

City rules require commissioners to defer to the chair before issuing public statements or comments to the media. Even then, when a chairperson voices a public opinion, they must clarify that they’re not speaking on behalf of the board, but as an individual citizen.

Gonzales told Fly that because his op-ed was written in the first person, it was clear that the opinions expressed in the piece were his own. As for Peacock’s claim that the op-ed hurt the commission's credibility, Gonzales said that point is “moot.”

“After receiving significant feedback from the community, the Mayor and City Council did exactly as requested—they decided to push the brakes on the ballot measure to perform greater community engagement, including referring the proposed campaign finance reforms to our Board for further study,” Gonzales told Fly.

The chairman added that he’s sad to see his colleague “resign over a disagreement.” Peacock has served on the board for seven years. His term was set to expire next year.

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4 Comments

  1. Adrian Gonzales pushed the ethics commission to waste over a hundred thousand dollars of taxpayer money years ago in a ridiculous attempt to investigate half of the candidates who had run for city council in 2014 (20 candidates, including most of the council) for inadvertently violating a minor campaign finance rule as a result of the City Clerk giving them improper instructions. The taxpayer dollars might as well have been burned in the street – it would have at least provided heat and illumination. Making someone with such poor judgement the chair of the commission was a huge mistake, and it appears that he is going further by using his power as chair to attempt to politicize the commission.

  2. > Vice Chair of San Jose Ethics Commission Abruptly Resigns

    Very much “inside baseball”.

    Some bureaucrats said something that upset some other bureaucrats.

    What the hell are working people supposed to make of this?

  3. Maintain the successful status quo. Several years ago, McEnery tried this and it failed ultimately. Unfortunately, many qualified, ethical people left permanently. This is a waste of tax payer (working people) money which is sorely needed now.

  4. When Roy Young died, the ethics of San Jose city hall went in the garbage basket. Glad someone has finally arrived to put a stop to the straussian nonsense of these current buffoons. .